Dr. Hannah L. Walker is an assistant professor of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. Her research examines the impact of the criminal justice system on American democracy with special attention to minority and immigrant communities. Previously, she served as a post doctoral fellow with the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University, and received her PhD in June, 2016 from the University of Washington.
Her forthcoming book, Mobilized by Injustice (available for pre-order through Oxford University Press), explores the impact of experiences with the criminal justice system on political engagement. Springing from decades of abuse by law enforcement and an excessive criminal justice system, members of over-policed communities lead the current movement for civil rights in the United States. Activated by injustice, individuals protested police brutality in Ferguson, campaigned to end stop-and-frisk in New York City, and advocated for restorative justice in Washington, D.C. Yet, scholars focused on the negative impact of criminal justice on resources and public trust did not predict these pockets of resistance, arguing instead that demeaning policy leads individuals to withdraw. Mobilized by Injustice excavates conditions under which, despite other negative outcomes, criminal justice experiences catalyze political action. When understood as resulting from a system that targets people based on race, class, or other group identifiers, contact can politically mobilize.
In order to identify how individuals connect criminal justice experiences to larger narratives of injustice, Mobilized by Injustice compares and contrasts the experiences of whites to Blacks and Latinos. Institutions embedded with racial bias ensure that Black Americans bear the full degrading force of the system. For this reason, researchers often focus on differences between Blacks and whites, even as Latinos face heightened scrutiny by local police for reasons related to immigration. This project therefore turns attention to Latinos, demonstrating the strength of familial ties to mobilize and highlighting that the racially targeted nature of policy itself creates a collective fund for political action. In-depth interviews are paired with analysis of several surveys in order to centralize the voices of those most impacted by criminal justice policy. This story-telling approach renders complex theory and analysis available to lay-readers interested in issues related to race and policing in American cities. Follow Dr. Walker on twitter to see what she’s been up to.